CIFF 2021- “A Cop Movie” and The Problem With Narrative-Doc Hybrids: Film Capsule Review

A Cop Movie initially seems like a brilliant endeavor to explore the state of Mexico’s police system through the combination of narrative and documentary storytelling. It allows director Alonso Ruizpalacios to develop several fantastic sequences as Teresa and Montoya break the fourth wall while on the job to share their experiences.

However as the two subjects become more fully realized, A Cop Movie loses its sense of authenticity. The line between fact and fiction becomes so blurred that the entire film retroactively feels emotionally hollow. It’s a problem that’s not uncommon in the narrative-documentary hybrid format: In an attempt to make a documentary more cinematic, it loses the humanity that is key to the documentary form.

The Silver Lining

While it may not elicit the emotional response Ruizpalacios intended, A Cop Movie‘s cinematography is visually arresting. Cinematographer Emiliano Villanueva crafts shot after amazing shot that transport the viewer into Teresa and Montoya’s world. Villanueva’s dashcam and handheld work makes us feel as though we’re the cops’ rookie partner instead of a couch potato onlooker.

A Cop Movie is a part of the Chicago International Film Festival’s 2021 lineup. The film releases on November 5th on Netflix.

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